I know, it is never a good sign to start with a disclaimer, but given my current dismal scores on Spark Trivia, it is only fair to forewarn you that sometimes knowledge and I are not the good buddies I like to think we are.
First, let’s establish that one of my dad’s favorite phrases was “Julia, you have your head up your…ahem”. Just thought I should throw that out there so you know what you are dealing with. (*See note at end of blog.)
Second, I am not a medical professional in any way shape or form. I urge you to do your own research that will either verify or completely blow this blog out of the water. (Am I the only one that thinks of fishing with demolition explosives when I hear this phrase?) Discuss any changes, thoughts, concerns with your doctor. They know your health best.
Are you ready to have your whole world shift a little to the left? Are you ready to discuss the oh so exciting world of Cholesterol and Heart Disease and how everything you thought about it is probably wrong? (Insert some really cool and groovy theme music here. I Googled “Groovy Music” and Isaac Hayes theme from Shaft came up. We are gonna go with that.)
According to the American Heart Association, “Cholesterol is a waxy substance. It’s not bad: your body needs it to build cells. Too much can be a problem.” If you have read my profile, you know my cholesterol was high. Not like a gazillion, but still elevated. So when I went to my cardiologist, I was ready to give up eggs, and fats, and anything else that might contribute to high cholesterol, like cleaning the bathrooms. (Don’t you dare tell me cleaning doesn’t increase your cholesterol.)
Wait for the pin to drop. Her response, “We are finding cholesterol doesn’t play as big a role in heart disease as we thought. Genetics and sodium are key factors.” She then told me it is okay to eat eggs.
With an additional test ordered, she sent me on my way. So being me, the self-proclaimed Google Queen, I went home and researched. Here is what I found out: You have a greater chance of having a heart attack with normal cholesterol. 75% of the people that have heart attacks have normal cholesterol levels. Don’t get too excited and ditch your cholesterol meds just yet. Also note, my doctor said “AS BIG A ROLE”. It is still a factor, so this isn’t a free ticket to eat a whole pizza, followed by a greasy burger, fries, all topped off with a large slice of cheesecake.
Then I researched eggs. Remember the lowly egg? Remember how we were told it was the incredible edible egg? Then we were told it was the horrible, no good, very bad egg? Wait, it changed. Egg whites were okay, but the yolks were bad. So we were told to buy overly processed egg products in a carton. (I won’t judge you if you buy them.) But then we were told the yolks held all the nutrition. Confusing, right? Let me help clear up the confusion by sharing this link about eggs. It will take less than a minute. I will wait.
Did you check it out? Did it blow your mind? Or are you getting those high scores on Spark Trivia so you knew all this? (If you didn’t view it, and you are reading on, I am so disappointed in you, but you are still a good person and I still love you.)
So about that test she ordered. It is called “Lipoprotein (A)”. Like your cholesterol numbers, it gives one more piece to the puzzle. When your doctor orders blood work, be sure to ask them to run this test. (Ask for a Hepatitis C test too. Totally unrelated, but important.) Lipoprotein A determines how likely you are to have a heart attack based on your genetics. This is what The University Health News says about Lp(a):
“Some people are genetically predisposed to have a lot of lipoprotein(a) and others very little. Because of this, Lp(a) levels can vary greatly from person to person. Unlike other total cholesterol, LDL, HDL, and triglycerides, Lp(a) levels are not influenced by diet, exercise, fat loss, weight loss, stress, or other environmental or lifestyle factors. The one exception to this may be inflammation. Inflammation seems to make Lp(a) an even more potent cause of plaque build-up, so living a more “anti-inflammatory” lifestyle may decrease the risk of Lp(a).”
Here are my results: Lipoprotein (A) 19.0 mg/dL
Here’s how Lp(a) levels are looked at in terms of risk:
Desirable: Less than14 mg/dL
Borderline risk: 14 – 30 mg/dL
High risk: 31 – 50 mg/dL
Very high risk: 50+ mg/dL
So my advice as a non-medical professional:
Eat real food, including a moderate amount of healthy fats
Get restorative sleep
Practice healthy movement
Visit your doctor regularly
So are you excited now about Cholesterol and Heart Attack information? I hope I made it interesting and informative for you. If nothing else, maybe I gave you a chuckle.
Trivia Sparkers: Beware. Next month is going to be my month!
Until next time. Be Safe. Be Strong. Be Healthy. Keep Sparking!
(*In response to BarbaraJ73's comment: Yes, he did. It was the navy in him. We were a pretty irreverent at times. It was always said with love and laughter. He used to say it about himself, and I would tell him he should perform his own colonoscopy while he was at it. He would just roll his eyes. If I ever say I wonder where my boys get it from, you know where.)
***Pictures from Pixabay and Public Domain***